Doc. 23. battles of Port Republic and cross-keys.
Report of General Jackson.
headquarters Second army corps, A. N. Va., April 14, 1863.General: I have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the battle of Port Republic, fought on the eighth and ninth of June, 1862. Having, through the blessing of an ever kind Providence, passed Strasburgh before the Federal armies, under Generals Shields and Fremont, effected the contemplated junction in my rear, as referred to in the report of the battle of Winchester, I continued to move up the Valley turnpike, leaving Strasburgh on the evening of the first of June. The cavalry, under Brigadier-General George II. Stewart, brought up the rear. Fremont's advance, which had been near us during the day, soon ascertained that our retreat had been resumed, and, pursuing after dark, succeeded, by replying, when challenged, “Ashby's cavalry,” in approaching so near our rear-guard as to attack it. The Sixth Virginia cavalry, being nearest to the enemy, was thrown into confusion and suffered some loss. Disorder was also to some extent communicated to the Second Virginia cavalry, but its commander, Colonel Mumford, soon re-formed it, and gallantly drove back the Federals, and captured some of their number. From information received respecting Shields's movements, and from the fact that he had been in possession of Front Royal for over forty-eight hours, and had not succeeded in effecting a junction with Fremont, as originally designed, I became apprehensive that he was moving via Luray, for the purpose of reaching New-Market, on my line of retreat, before my command should arrive there. To avoid such a result, I caused White-House Bridge, which was upon his assumed line of march, over the south fork of the Shenandoah River to New-Market, to be burnt; and also Columbia Bridge, which was a few miles further up the river. On the second of June, the enemy's advance came within artillery range of, and commenced shelling our rear-guard, which caused most of the cavalry, and that part of its artillery nearest the enemy, to retreat in disorder. This led General Ashby to one of those acts of personal heroism and prompt resource which strikingly marked his character. Dismounting from his horse, he collected from the road a small body of infantry from those who, from fatigue, were straggling behind their commands, and posting them in a piece of wood near the turnpike, he awaited the advance of the Federal cavalry, now pushing forward to reap the fruits of the panic produced by the shells. As they approached within easy range, he poured such an effective fire into their ranks as to empty a number of saddles and check their further pursuit for that day. Having transferred the Second and Sixth Virginia cavalry to Ashby, he was placed in command of the rear-guard. On the third, after my command had crossed the bridge over the Shenandoah, near Mount Jackson, General Ashby was ordered to destroy it, which he barely succeeded in accomplishing before the Federal forces reached the opposite bank of the river. Here his horse was killed by the enemy, and he made a very narrow escape with his life. We reached Harrisonburgh at an early hour on the morning of the fifth, and, passing beyond that town, turned toward the east in the direction of Port Republic. On the sixth, General Ashby took position on the road between Harrisonburgh and Port Republic, and received a spirited charge from a portion of the enemy's cavalry, which resulted in the repulse of the enemy, and the capture of Colonel Wyndham and sixty-three others. Apprehending that the Federals would make a more serious attack, Ashby called for an infantry support. The brigade of General George H. Stewart was accordingly ordered forward. In a short time the Fifty-eighth Virginia regiment became engaged with a Pennsylvania regiment called the Bucktails, when Colonel Johnson, of the First Maryland regiment, coming up in the hottest period of the fire, charged gallantly into its flank and drove the enemy, with heavy loss, from the field, capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Kane, commanding. In this skirmish our infantry loss was seventeen (17) killed, fifty (50) wounded, and three missing. In this affair General Turner Ashby was killed. An official report is not an appropriate place for more than a passing notice of the distinguished dead; but the close relation which General Ashby bore to my  command for most of the previous twelve months, will justify me in saying that as a partisan officer, I never knew his superior. His daring was proverbial; his powers of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy. The main body of my command had now reached the vicinity of Port Republic. The village is situated in the angle formed by the junction of the North and South-Rivers, tributaries of the south fork of the Shenandoah. Over the larger and deeper of those two streams, the North-River, there was a wooden bridge, connecting the town with the road leading to Harrisonburgh. Over the South-River there was a passable ford. The troops more immediately under my own eye were encamped on the high ground north of the village, about a mile from the river. General Ewell was some four miles distant, near the road leading from Harrisonburgh to Port Republic. General Fremont had arrived with his forces in the vicinity of Harrisonburgh, and General Shields was moving up the east side of the south fork of the Shenandoah, and was then at Conrad's Store, some fifteen miles below Port Republic, my position being about equi-distant from both hostile armies. To prevent a junction of the two Federal armies, I had caused the bridge over the south fork of the Shenandoah at Conrad's Store to be destroyed. Intelligence having been received that General Shields was advancing further up the river, Captain Sipe, with a small cavalry force, was sent down during the night of the seventh to verify the report and gain such other information respecting the enemy as he cold. Captain G. W. Myers, of the cavalry, was subsequently directed to move with his company in the same direction for the purpose of supporting Captain Sipe, if necessary. The next morning Captain Myers's company came rushing back in disgraceful disorder, announcing that the Federal forces were in close pursuit. Captain Chipley and his company of cavalry, which was in town, also shamefully fled. The brigades of Generals Taliaferro and Winder were soon under arms, and ordered to occupy positions immediately north of the bridge. By this time the Federal cavalry, accompanied by artillery, were in sight, and, after directing a few shots toward the bridge, they crossed South River, and dashing into the village, planted one of their pieces at the southern entrance of the bridge. In the mean time the batteries of Wooding, Poague, and Carpenter were being placed in position, and General Taliaferro's brigade having reached the vicinity of the bridge, was ordered to charge across, capture the piece, and occupy the town. Whilst one of Poague's pieces was returning the fire of that of the enemy at the far end of the bridge, the Thirty-seventh Virginia regiment, Colonel Fulkerson, after delivering its fire, gallantly charged over the bridge, captured the gun, and, followed by the other regiments of the brigade, entered the town, and dispersed and drove back the Federal cavalry. Another piece of artillery, with which the Federals had advanced, was abandoned, and subsequently fell into our hands. About this time, a considerable body of infantry was seen advancing up the same road. Our batteries opened with marked effect upon the retreating cavalry and advancing infantry. In a short time the infantry followed the cavalry, falling back to Lewis's, three miles down the river, pursued for a mile by our batteries on the opposite bank, when the enemy disappeared in the wood around a bend in the road. This attack of General Shields had hardly been repulsed, before Ewell was seriously engaged with Fremont, moving on the opposite side of the river. The enemy pushed forward, driving in the Fifteenth Alabama, Colonel Canty, from their post on picket. This regiment made a gallant resistance, which so far checked the Federal advance as to afford Generall Ewell time for the choice of his position at leisure. His ground was well selected, on a commanding ridge, a rivulet and large field of open ground in front, wood on both flanks, and his line intersected near its centre by the road leading to Port Republic. General Trimble's brigade was posted on the right, somewhat in advance of his centre. The batteries of
Brigadier-General R. H. Chilton, A. A. and I. G., Headquarters Department Northern Va.:
Brigadier-General R. H. Chilton, A. A. and I. G., Headquarters Department Northern Va.: